The original Game Boy turns 25 today. But short of owning an original device or buying the games again on the 3DS eShop, your best bet for reliving Super Mario Land or Pokémon Red is to use emulators. The portable nature of the games and the relatively low hardware requirements needed to emulate Nintendo’s handhelds have made them a perfect fit for modern-day smartphones.
While Android users have a variety of choices for emulation, the legally gray area of emulators has kept any apps from making it to Apple’s App Store, leaving apps like gpSPhone andlimited only to jailbroken iOS devices.
GBA4iOS, from developer Riley Testut, is different. Using a loophole in Apple’s app installation systems, this emulator can easily be installed on any iOS device, for free. The trick involves setting the device’s date back a day, then downloading the app directly from the GBA4iOS website.
Aside from its ease of installation, GBA4iOS is simply one of the most polished GBA emulators on any platform, with full Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy support, accelerated speed, multiple and locked save states, as well as customizable skins and Dropbox syncing for saves between multiple devices. It also takes advantage of some the latest iOS features, including AirPlay streaming, AirDrop, and Apple’s recent MFI Bluetooth controllers.
What it lacks in advanced emulation features, like video and sound filters, it more than makes up in user-friendliness and accessibility. And a 2.1 update, scheduled for release at the end of the summer, promises to add multiplayer support via Bluetooth/WiFi-Direct.